Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Patrice G. Saab

Second Committee Member

Maria M. Llabre

Third Committee Member

Neena Malik


The promotion of healthy weight behaviors in youths is crucial. Furthermore, health knowledge is important for children to possess as increased knowledge may lead to positive attitudes toward healthy behaviors, and instill the desire to avoid the risks of being unhealthy. The goal of the present study was to identify the predictors of health behaviors and health knowledge in a sample of ethnically diverse middle school age girls (N = 288) enrolled in a health promotion program, Get in the GROOVE!. It is important to examine the predictors of healthy behaviors and knowledge so effective strategies and interventions within health promotion programs can be identified. Participants’ health knowledge, self-efficacy, and health behaviors were assessed at the beginning and end of the three-week program. To examine the relationships between these constructs, two structural models (a dietary model and a physical activity model) were tested. Results indicated that both the dietary [(χ2 (109) = 134.12, p =.052); RMSEA = .03 (90% CI = [.00, .05]); CFI = .97] and the physical activity [(χ2 (18) = 26.05, p = .099); RMSEA = .04 (90% CI = [.00, .08]); CFI = .98] structural models fit the data. Path estimates show that health behaviors may not be predicted by two commonly assessed cognitive variables, self-efficacy and health knowledge. However, path estimates indicate that baseline self-efficacy predicts nutrition (B = .02, SE = .01, p = .041) and physical activity (B = .10, SE=.04, p =.005) health knowledge scores at the end of the program. This study is one of the first studies to provide evidence for a significant prospective relationship between health self-efficacy and health knowledge in children. These unique findings suggest that improving self-efficacy before implementing a health education intervention may be advantageous.


health knowledge; self-efficacy; nutrition; physical activity; health promotion; middle school